GL 244 Loon X ray with lead jig by NYS DECs Wildlife Health Unit

Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 244

Winter held on for another week giving snowmobilers and skiers some snow to play on but be careful of ice conditions with all the freezing and thawing we’ve had this winter. Punxsutawney Phil and Ellie George’s Paradox Pete didn’t see their shadow so we can look for Spring most anytime. Since we’ve had six spring breaks so far this winter that won’t be anything new. Traveling to Syracuse this week there was no snow to be seen below Remsen. Just open bare fields and much open water almost everywhere. Tupper Lake had to cancel their ice fishing derby because of unsafe ice conditions. I’ve seen ice anglers on lakes in the Fulton Chain and Limekiln Lake, but I would still check the ice before going out, especially around inlets and bubblers around boat houses as they both weaken the ice way far from the open water. Another warming trend is coming at the end of the week with rain predicted on Friday and temperatures in the forties. 

California is having a bit of severe weather to say the least, with hurricane force winds coming with these storms for the first time ever. Rainfall totals for the two days are over ten inches in many places and the whole coastline is being affected by what they called an Atmospheric River coming off the ocean. It has caused much flooding of homes and businesses, mudslides blocking highways and the high winds taking down trees and power lines. This is going to continue into the weekend with more rain predicted each day. More rain just on the first day than they normally receive for the entire month of February. 

Birds keep coming from some place to my feeders every day. I had a count of ten maybe twelve Blue Jays at my feeders for a couple of weeks now. I have banded them since the 22 of January nearly ten new ones a day through today, caught mostly in my Potter traps. I missed a couple of days with hospital and doctors trips, but I did over sixty new birds. They just keep coming as I look at them in the morning, I see new ones without bands and where the banded birds go, I don’t know if they are going south or north. Other new birds are showing up that haven’t been here in weeks like Pine Siskins, Purple Finch and even a Slate Colored Junco. I believe I’m counting about twenty Black Capped Chickadees daily and I’ve put about thirty bands on while I’ve had my mist nets up only two half days. Also catching several retraps that I banded last fall or spring. So, birds are moving around during these milder days and nights going in one direction or another. 

I got a News Release from Nina Schoch Executive Director of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation on lead poisoning being the main cause of death of Loons found dead on Adirondack Lakes this past summer. This is from summarizing the findings of the NYS DEC’s Wildlife Health Unit’s necropsy reports from dead Loons found last summer. Unfortunately, the primary cause of death was lead poisoning due to the birds swallowing a piece of lead fishing tackle when they ate a fish that still had a piece of tackle attached after it broke a line. They also pick up small stones from the bottom that they use to grind up the fish that they eat and while doing this they may pick up a lead sinker or lead shot from the lake bottom. Loons seen sick on the water from lead poisoning have trouble holding their head up and they will beach themselves to keep from drowning but die from lead poisoning. If people want to help prevent lead poisoning in Loons and other wildlife, we recommend they use non-toxic fishing tackle and ammunition. There are many alternatives available now that do not poison wildlife who accidentally ingest them. 

We also offer a Lead-Tackle Buy Back Program, where people can bring in 1 ounce or more of lead tackle and receive a $10 voucher that they can use to buy non-lead tackle at any of our participating tackle outfitters (see for locations across the Park. We also welcome new outfitters to join this program. Locally Old Forge Hardware is participating in this program. 

The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up next weekend February 16 through the 19 but that’s another story. See ya. 


Photo above: Loon X-ray with lead jig by NYS DEC's Wildlife Health Unit